Treatment of Native Americans

After the American Revolution the new United States government hoped to maintain peace with the Indians on the frontier. But as settlers continued to migrate westward they made settlements on Indian lands and demanded and received protection by the Army. Tecumseh, a Shawnee chief, organized several tribes to oppose further ceding of Indian lands. But they were defeated in 1811 by Gen. William Henry Harrison at the battle of Tippecanoe. During the War of 1812 many of the Indians again sided with the British. Afterward, with the victorious United States secure in its borders, federal policy turned to one of removal of the Indians west of the Mississippi River–to the so-called Great American Desert, where, supposedly, no white man would ever want to live. To implement this policy, the Indian Removal Act was signed into law on May 28, 1830. It gave President Andrew Jackson, a dedicated foe of the Indians, the power to exchange land west of the Mississippi for the southeastern territory of the Five Civilized Tribes–the Cherokees, Creeks, Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Seminoles. The removal policy led to a clash between Jackson and the United States Supreme Court, which had ruled in favor of the right of the Cherokees to retain their lands in Georgia. Jackson refused to enforce the Court’s decision, and in 1838 and 1839 the Cherokees, like the other tribes before them, were forced westward to Indian Territory (later Oklahoma). Their bitter trek during the dead of winter has become known as the Trail of Tears. In 1832, Sauk and Fox Indians under Black Hawk in Wisconsin had been defeated after refusing to abandon their lands east of the Mississippi. In the 1830s and 1840s, Seminoles under Osceola unsuccessfully resisted removal from their homes in Florida. By the end of the 1840s, except for small segments of tribes who had fled to the wilderness, the “Indian problem” had ended in the East. 1835: Seminole Indian War. Wh…

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